Why is Mike Lombardi trotting out tired stereotypes as analysis?

Mike Lombardi posted a column recently on The Ringer about his seven quarterback insights. I won’t get too much into it here, but suffice to say that it was based in a ridiculous amount of intangibles and hindsight, and biased to the point of being racist. Deadspin covered it well:


Donovan McNabb played 13 seasons in the NFL; he made the Pro Bowl six times; throwing passes to jamokes like Freddie Mitchell, James Thrash, and Todd Pinkston, he led the Philadelphia Eagles to five NFC Championship games in his prime years and a close Super Bowl loss to the greatest football dynasty the NFL has ever had. In his mid-30s, toward the end of the typical career-span for even very good NFL quarterbacks, he was sent from the only professional team he’d ever played for to the famously derelict one in D.C.—where, in Michael Lombardi’s dumb reckoning, his performance declined not because he was an aging quarterback nearing the end of his career and playing for an unfamiliar and radioactively dysfunctional clown-car of a franchise, but because of essential shortcomings in his character.

Remember, this is supposed to be a guide to drafting a franchise quarterback. Don’t choose a guy like Donovan McNabb, teams: After 32,873 yards, 216 touchdowns, five conference championship appearances, a trip to the Super Bowl, and a trade to the worst organization in the sport, his shiftless habits might catch up to him. The Eagles should have known better; when they took McNabb, they still had a shot at Cade McNown or Akili Smith.

Sure, [Robert] Griffin suffered a catastrophic injury that permanently robbed him of the unique gifts that were the bedrock of his career, on a club that can’t go six months without deliberately sabotaging whichever one of its own employees happens to be getting the most shine at that particular moment … but his career petered out because his teammates didn’t want to have a beer with him. Therefore the Skins failed at scouting him in the first place.

Lombardi, as so many scouts do, comes up with an “intangibles” list for quarterbacks that essentially amounts to “draft white quarterbacks.”

But I got curious: What else has Lombardi written about quarterbacks in his career? Is there a pattern?

Thankfully, I was alerted to his column about the 2011 draft, the draft where Cam Newton went #1 overall. It’s mostly meaningless drivel until it comes to his recommendations at the end:

While there is a perception about [Ryan] Mallett, the reality is much different. With that in mind, my money is on Mallett and Blaine Gabbert being the two to succeed. Each fits the criteria above and has the skill set to lead a team.

Huh. You don’t say.

Lombardi, in a later column, doubles down that Gabbert should be selected over Newton. Let’s just take a look at the final season numbers for those two:

Oh, keep in mind, Auburn won the national title on a team that had one other legitimate NFLer besides Newton. Oh, yeah, and Newton also ran for almost 1,500 yards and 20 touchdowns. That’s more touchdowns than Blaine “much worse than Chase Daniel in the same offense” Gabbert threw for in his final season.

As an aside, I did find this passage in the column funny:

Think Kyle Boller in 2003. The Ravens felt Boller’s arm and athletic talent could blend perfectly into Brian Billick’s offense. However, for all the skills that Boller brought to the field, he was never quick-minded in his decision-making, nor did he have a sense of rhythm or timing that was needed in the system.

Kyle Boller completed under 50% of his passes in college. Mike Lombardi doesn’t once mention his accuracy.

Lombardi was GM of the Cleveland Browns in 2013, and after a draft bereft of picks (owing to some trades, like the previous regime’s supplementary draft selection of Josh Gordon and Lombardi’s acquisition of Davone Bess), the team only made two picks before the sixth round. Those two picks were an athlete who never developed into a pass rusher at #6 overall (and who didn’t finish his rookie deal with the Browns), and a cornerback who was cut after one year.

Lombardi was also a “senior personnel executive” with the Oakland Raiders from 1998 to 2007. The Raiders, you may recall, had a #1 overall pick they decided to use on a QB. That QB, of course, was JaMarcus Russell. (Especially ironic for a guy like Lombardi who prizes intangibles, as Russell had one of the worst work ethics of a highly drafted QB ever.)

That’s all the evidence I could find for now, but really, it’s enough to suggest its own question: What evidence is there that Mike Lombardi knows anything about how to evaluate or draft quarterbacks?

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